Villas-Boas’ revolution gains traction at Bridge

ANDRE VILLAS-BOAS’ brave new Chelsea, with Frank Lampard on the bench and a twinkle in attack, is starting to take shape; but as his side prepare to face Valencia in the Champions League this week there is one very significant aspect still missing — a little bit of luck.

Chelsea’s 4-1 victory over Swansea on Saturday was typical of the kind of challenge Villas-Boas has had to face since arriving from Portugal, charged with re-modelling an ageing side that many people believe is on the wane.

He has already had to deal with red cards, freak results, bizarre misses and a nasty head injury that kept Didier Drogba out for a month; and this time it was a sending-off for £50 million striker Fernando Torres that tested his managerial skills at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea once again showcased their new free-flowing style.

The former Liverpool man had already scored one goal and helped make another for Ramires when he inexplicably flung himself into a two-footed challenge on Swansea midfielder Mark Gower in the 39th minute, undoing the earlier good work that had led Chelsea fans to believe their record signing had finally turned a corner.

When you consider Torres also blotted his copybook last week by missing a real sitter at Old Trafford having only just broken his goal duck, it’s hard to ignore a theory that the striker and his manager are victims of some kind of football curse.

“I think I haven’t found luck yet,” admitted Villas-Boas. “But I think maybe one or two more games and then things start happening for you.

“It was looking promising against Swansea — but then the sending off came. It’s a pity because it could have been an even more entertaining afternoon for the fans.

“But no, I don’t think Torres has a curse; the team is more than the individual and I’m very happy with the team because we came back and won well.”

When Villas-Boas’ luck does eventually change then Manchester United and Manchester City should start to worry because there are encouraging signs that the 33-year-old has the heart and the courage to create real change at Stamford Bridge.

On Saturday he made the brave decision to leave talismanic midfielder Lampard on the bench — the first time the England man has not been selected for a league match when fully fit for almost eight years.

And his decision reaped dividends as the chief beneficiary Ramires came in and scored twice in an important victory that leaves Chelsea in confident mood ahead of a Champions League trip to Spain on Wednesday.

It was Torres who opened the scoring, chesting down a wonderful Juan Mata pass before drilling home. Ramires doubled the lead, firing home from Ashley Cole’s cross after Torres’ excellent pass had sent the left-back running free.

Swansea responded well once Chelsea went down to 10 men, with the ever-dangerous Nathan Dyer hitting the woodwork; but Chelsea wrapped up victory in impressive fashion as Ramires and then Drogba — off the bench for his first action since being concussed against Norwich in August — completing a comfortable victory.

Swansea’s goal came with the game all but over at 3-0 when Ashley Williams headed home a Gower cross.

Villas-Boas’ big decision now is whether to recall Lampard for the midweek trip to Spain and unsurprisingly he baulked at suggestions the midfielder is becoming yesterday’s man.

“He is still a key player — for sure, no doubt,’’ he insisted. “We count on him like we count on the other ones.”

That of course is the key phrase — ‘like the other ones’.

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